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Publication

Criminal Justice and Defence Rights in Bulgaria

October 15, 2015

Latest News

Arrested in800px-Bulgarian_flag_(2) Bulgaria?

If you have been arrested in Bulgaria, check our useful advice page. It has been designed to answer to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding criminal proceedings and defence rights in Bulgaria.  

Violation Statistics

Decisions of violation of Article 5 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by Bulgaria between April 2014 and March 2016, as determined by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) During the two year period, Bulgaria was held in violation of Article 5 ECHR in 5 decided cases and in violation of Article 6 in 1 decided case (all being cases involving criminal charges or proceedings and (in the case of Article 5) relating to pre-charge, pre-trial, or pre-sentence detention).

Fair Trials' Reports

Defence rights in Bulgaria: Selected sources April 2007 - June 2012 Defence rights in Bulgaria: Selected sources April 2012 - April 2014 Decisions of violation of Article 5 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) April 2014 - March 2016 

External Reports

Article 5: The right to liberty 

NGOs have reported that pre-trial detainees have very little access to their lawyers, family members and essential services including medical support. Concerns have been raised about police brutality during interviews. Reports suggest that people are illegally detained, subjected to physical violence and forced to go without food or medication. There are concerns about police corruption.

The US State Department raised concerns that the large backlog of outstanding investigations means that prosecutors often bring charges without sufficient evidence which judges have to return for additional investigation, further extending the trial process. The Human Rights Commissioner at the Council of Europe has raised serious concerns about the state of the juvenile justice system.

Article 6: The right to a fair trial

Serious concerns have been raised by a number of bodies about the lack of independence within the judiciary, which has been described as inefficient, non-transparent and corrupt. There has also been criticism of illegal court fees and the inordinate length of proceedings.

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee has suggested that the Bulgarian criminal justice system fails to address the racist nature of certain crimes by treating them as ordinary offences.

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